Where land and water come together, wonderful things happen. Wet, spring-fed fen blends into floodplain forest to create the globally significant habitats of Ives Road Fen Preserve. Fens are unusual, and increasingly rare, wetlands that receive water from underground alkaline springs rather than from precipitation. This pure, cool water flows in rivulets under the thick grasses and sedges of the preserve, emptying into the River Raisin at the fen’s eastern edge.
The air sings with throaty trills of the tree frog, the tap-tap-tap of the rare Blanchard’s cricket frog and a chorus of migratory and breeding birds such as the yellow-breasted chat, blue-winged warbler and alder flycatcher. The fen also provides ideal habitat for many rare plants, including the carnivorous sundew and pitcher plant, as well as the showy coneflower, prairie dropseed grass, prairie Indian-plaintain, hairy-fruited sedge, beak grass and prairie rose. Spectacular sycamore and silver maple trees spread their shade over the floodplain. One of the rare animals here is the hickorynut mussel, found in the river itself.
Why the Conservancy Selected This Site
The Conservancy began purchasing land at Ives Road Fen in 1987. This wet, spring-fed prairie blends into floodplain forest to create a globally significant habitat. Its pure, cool water flows in rivulets under the thick grasses and sedges of the preserve, emptying into the River Raisin at the fen’s eastern edge. The River Raisin is one of the very best warm water rivers in the state and includes 5 mussels of conservation concern. Additionally, three of the four local communities that draw all of their drinking water from rivers are on the River Raisin downstream of Ives Road Fen Preserve.
What the Conservancy Has Done/Is Doing
The main threats to this preserve are invasive species such as garlic mustard and glossy buckthorn, ditches and tile lines from old agricultural activities, and fire suppression. Staff and our cadre of ambitious, dedicated volunteers have removed more than 2.5 million adult buckthorn stems, burned nearly 400 brush piles, spot burned 10 million buckthorn seedlings, conducted 31 prescribed burns, removed 3.5 tons of garlic mustard by hand and treated 500,000 purple loosestrife and 10,000 cattails. The preserve contains nearly 100 acres of restored prairie fen, an increase from six acres in 1987. To restore hydrology, we have filled one ditch and installed dams in several others, and have removed over 100 meters of tile lines.